Larry Mendez, T&T men’s rugby coach is hoping his team will redeem itself from Saturday’s defeat to Guyana, when the Rugby Americas North Sevens Championship (RAN) is hosted here in November.
T&T suffered a painful 18-22 loss in the final of Southern Caribbean Rugby Championship at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, and as a result, missed out on the opportunity to tackle the winner of the North Caribbean play-off for the regional title.
The (RAN) Sevens will feature the best of the region, as well as Mexico, which T&T beat last year to be named Caribbean champions, Canada and the United States, among others. “At a post mortem of Saturday’s match, the players were all broken-hearted. However we are aware of our downfalls and we must put things in place from now to prevent similar pain in the future,” Mendez said.
The former Caribbean champs will begin training from next month in preparation for the tournament but hope they are given the necessary tools. The Guardian understands that Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Daryl Smith has been in talks with T&T Rugby Football Union president Leslie Figaro, with an aim to iron out all funding concerns. Mendez said he could not put a figure on what his team receives for preparation, but made it clear they do the best with whatever they are given.
He said T&T looked like anything but champs, adding there was a lot of good individual play but no cohesion which was due to unpreparedness.
“When you have reached a position of champions, you are supposed to be at a point where you can get the proper training necessary to defend it, but what we encountered were the same issues we have had for many years and it showed in the match.”
“These issues range from getting proper training conditions to dealing with players’ nutrition and diet.” He said they also faced difficulty in dealing with players when they receive injuries. “We have to take them to the doctor to be assessed and then deal with therapy which is a costly exercise that takes a lot of time,” Mendez explained.
He took a swipe at the lack of funding, pointing out that while some of the big rugby nations play about 15 and more practice matches for the year, in T&T the national rugby team only play a friendly when there is a major tournament on the way. “For instance we did not play anyone in preparation for Saturday’s game, but our team will not play any preparation game until there is something big coming up.”
He noted his team receives monies for travel to key tournament. “They do not see the need to give us money to prepare, which means we have a lot of work to do off the field, before our team can focus on winning major international tournaments.”